Outreach at Dakota Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to Segue Into F.A.I.T.H. Riders Ministry Next Year

Gary Ranne (right), one of 120 volunteers in Sturgis, S.D., traveled from Euless,Texas, to evangelize among thousands of motorcycle rally attendees, extends an invitation to hear a 3-minute testimony to qualify for a drawing for a new Harley-Davidson. More than 100 people every three hours agree to listen. Photo by Karen L. Willoughby

“Their eternity is forever changed,” Garvon Golden said of 10,647 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally attendees who named Jesus as their Lord and Savior during the past 14 years.

Golden, executive director of the Dakota Baptist Convention, added that “volunteers who have had the opportunity to share their testimony with nearly 54,000 bike rally attenders over these 14 years have the joy of knowing they’ve been obedient to share the faith they have in Jesus.”

The DBC’s outreach in Sturgis will segue next year to F.A.I.T.H. Riders, a ministry primary geared to motorcycle aficionados with chapters in more than 350 Southern Baptist churches.

In order to win a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle, more than 2,750 Sturgis attendees listened to a 3-minute testimony of the difference Jesus made in the life of one of 120 volunteers at the eight-day outreach.

The winner’s name was drawn from listeners who registered for the shiny black 2019 Harley Davidson motorcycle parked in front of a Main Street storefront during the 79th annual Sturgis rally in early August.

Two “catchers” flanking the motorcycle invited passersby inside the storefront where willing listeners connected with a “middleman” (or woman) and then a “sharer” who recounted his/her 3-minute testimony.

This year, 224 of those who heard a Gospel presentation were the big winners when they put their lives in Jesus’ hands, Golden said.

Transition

F.A.I.T.H. Riders members have participated in the Sturgis evangelism outreach for nine years. The organization asked the Dakota convention in 2010 to help coordinate a similar ministry during the Daytona [Fla.] Bike Week in March, which has been an annual outreach since 2011.

At both Sturgis and Daytona, the cacophony of revving motorcycle engines couples with colliding musical genres at max volume on jam-packed small-town streets, fusing hundreds of thousands of people clad in an array of garb worn to shock or to support the convictions (or lack thereof) of motorcyclists and wannabes, as well as dozens of dozens of vendors hawking everything an event attendee might be willing to spend money on.

Motorcycle rallies provide limitless opportunities to connect with people who choose to be far from God, said Marcus Merritt of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Georgia has been a partner with the two-state Dakota convention of 88 churches since 2006, the first year of the initiative. Merritt, director of church minister relations in Georgia, also is a F.A.I.T.H. Rider.

Golden, who retires at the end of the year, introduced area pastors to F.A.I.T.H. Riders’ national president, Mike Stewart, at a breakfast in Rapid City, S.D., and a supper in Spearfish, S.D., both on Monday, Aug. 5.

Golden told the pastors their participation in the future will be “crucial” in providing housing and meals for volunteers who otherwise would find the Sturgis ministry opportunity cost-prohibitive.

“As a F.A.I.T.H. Riders family, we couldn’t be happier to be able to coordinate the Sturgis Bike Giveaway ministry events,” Stewart told Baptist Press after his remarks to pastors and leaders in Spearfish. “F.A.I.T.H. Riders owes a huge debt of gratitude to Dakota Baptist Convention for training us in this entire procedure. What we do in Daytona is because of what we learned at Sturgis.”

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Source: Baptist Press